THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY AND THE STAR CHAMBER REDUX: CONTEXT COUNTS

by James A. Wilson

The beat goes on in the impeachment circus but little attention is paid to context as one side screams of new and ever more damning revelations while the other hollers about due process; voters – if we believe polls – are increasingly comfortable with the spectre of removing a sitting president – one who has resurrected many dimensions of the nation – from office in the face of Democratic leaders despairing openly about fielding a candidate who can beat this president in an election. Context?

The grand jury model will supply. Grand juries function much as does the House of Representatives in an impeachment process. Their task is not to determine guilt or innocence, but only whether there is enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors to warrant a trial. They do not necessarily feature all of the due process rights of the accused in an actual trial, although they are expected to operate in terms of fair play and Bill of Rights propriety.

For example, prosecutors are just as obligated to offer up evidence that would favor the accused as in an actual trial. A majority of the whole jury must vote for an indictment. In case of congressional impeachment the Constitution clearly states the power to indict or impeach rests with the whole House of Representatives, not the speaker or selected committees, or even a caucus of the majority; yet the speaker has so far resolutely refused even to display evidence to the whole body. Instead leaders leak whatever furthers the leaders’ narrative.

It is absolutely essential that grand jury proceedings be conducted in secret; this is to benefit the accused, not the prosecution. If no formal indictment or impeachment is voted – because evidence of wrongdoing is inadequate and the presumption of innocence must prevail – it would be a gross miscarriage of justice to release material destructive of the innocent party’s reputation. Yet in the case of the President we get leaks virtually every day of testimony damaging to the President without any opportunity to refute or counter it. Case in point, former Ambassador William Taylor recently testified he knew – although he later admits he has only hearsay because he has not talked with Donald Trump; he claims this one told him this and that one told him that and the committee calls this back fence gossip evidence. House leaders trumpet his testimony as convicting evidence of a quid pro quo demand on Ukraine to assist Trump in the 2020 campaign because Taylor got parts of it from sitting Ambassador Gordon Sondland. What the leaders hope we ignore is that Sondland himself contradicted Taylor when he testified. The bottom line is whenever a grand jury inquiry is leaked – especially when the leaks are selective – it has become a trial and without a full court press of due process it becomes a mistrial.

House leaders know perfectly well there is no way the Senate would convict and without a vote of the full house there is no way to get the case into the Senate for trial. What they hope the voters don’t get – and here is my prediction – is they have no intention now or ever of bringing this matter to a vote of the full House.

The way a trial by gossip – or an election by gossip – works is by presenting a narrative that cannot be refuted because the accused is never given an opportunity to refute it. If a legal process will inevitably proceed to the point where the accused gets his day before the jury – the voters – then you short circuit the process before it gets there. In this case – if you are Nancy Pelosi – you leak one damaging but unproven allegation after another until you finally “confess” you don’t have the votes and cancel the investigation. Presidential credibility and character have theoretically been so hopelessly through the trash compactor even AOC could beat Trump in a general election (were she old enough to run) by possessing the one essential virtue of not being the disgraced Donald Trump who never got his day in court.

What should we do?

We should demand a fair process; the sole counterweight to leaking selective bits of information and insidious dishonesty as to mandate full disclosure now. Pious claims of need-for-secrecy from a chair already caught in multiple lies so outrageous even the New York Times calls him out should be mocked. For Americans of faith there should be serious and sustained prayer before and after demands for full revelation.

We should demand a legislated code of conduct – changeable only by new legislation – that precludes such a travesty ever again no matter who runs the House. (If it passes the House first it should survive court challenge.) We should vote in lawmakers who will enact such changes in 2020 because it is in everyone’s interest to bring justice back to Congress, lest a new majority commit a new but identical tyranny with different victims. And again for those of faith, commit prayer before and after demanding.

The biblical Sons of Issachar – descendants of the patriarch of the same name – are depicted in 1 Chronicles 12:32 as people who “understood the signs of the times and knew what Israel should do.” This is to say they were gifted with comprehending the context of their times and its challenges. We are going to need a lot of Sons of Issachar – and be prepared to hear them – if our nation is to weather this typhoon. Therefore…

Last and most important – let each of us repent of the times we have convicted anyone by gossip. Acorns are what grow into oak trees. Repentance releases clarity within the lens of context. And context is important.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books. or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

MISPLACED WORSHIP BRINGS DISASTER EVERY TIME

by James A. Wilson

Any operation as big and as successful as Bethel Church of Redding, California, is going to ignite controversy from time to time – and sometimes all the time. A recent dust-up for the mega church is over one of their ministries called Changed, an outreach to gays and lesbians who struggle with their sexuality. There are many such ministries and some are quite effective at helping people re-orient while others are downright abusive. Inasmuch as I know one of the two founders of Changed I can say confidently this is one of the good-guy outreaches.

The complication comes from some posts appearing on the church’s Facebook page. The accusation is that this church has now become politically correct instead of Biblically orthodox in its approach to this hot button – especially in California.

I am not going to speak for or quote these posts; interested readers can go to the page and see for themselves what has been said. My issue is not with or against Bethel Church, but with the many who so slavishly worship the church itself – instead of the God who creates and redeems churches and persons – on the one hand, and with those zealots who worship their self-appointed calling to cleanse us of all error by attacking successful ministries on the other.

The issue is not whether Bethel Church gets it right, but whether the rest of us worship and serve God – accountable to His revealed words – or some variant of the idols I describe above.

What does God actually say about homosexuality and homosexual people?

First off, God has no use for homosexuality, any more than He has love for pornography, drugs, bullying, or any other form of idolatry. He has, however, given His life – through the death and resurrection of the Son – for each and every homosexual person, as well as for every pornography maker and addict, indeed everyone in bondage to drugs, alcohol, bullies, and others imprisoned in a lesser life than what He intends.

God hates nothing and no one He has made; He desires abundant life for all. His rejection of addictions like homosexuality is grounded entirely in their deadly impact on those they hold in bondage. Jesus says He came to set the captives free…all of us.

The best analogy I can imagine is the image of God writing each of us a check for our salvation, no matter what the cost. The check is good; His money is in the account, but that same check is of no value to anyone who declines to cash it at the First Bank of Abundant Life in Christ.

Another way to express the truth is to point out God gave each of us unlimited access to Himself and His life over the weekend Jesus died and rose – this access is available to us whether or not we believe; He says He came for all mankind and if He be lifted up – on the Cross – He will lift all mankind to Himself. The point is reiterated when Paul declares Jesus desires the death of not a single sinner; Jesus Himself says He came to set the captives – not the condemned – free. However, salvation is not a function of our access to God; it is dependent on the access we give Him.

There is no universal salvation depicted in Scripture, only universal availability. The same condition – giving Him access to us is where the rubber meets the road – restricts all of us to an obligation of obedience. What does that mean for gays? It means the same for them as for the rest of us in the straight world. Romans 10:9 states clearly that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus is the necessary Lord of our lives we will live with and in Him. Romans 14:4 cautions those of us who think one sin – or sinner – worse than another that we dare not judge the servant of another; that other would be Jesus Himself.

That said, God does hate all lifestyles and behavior that injure and kill those who practice them; that certainly includes homosexuality. He hates the lifestyle because He loves those addicted to it. He has set free untold thousands from that lifestyle – including the leaders of the Changed ministry of Bethel Church and the leaders of virtually every other ministry to gays that is of any good – and He will not rest until He has rescued them all. But – and this is crucial – a passion to save does not equal a passion to condemn those who have not surrendered to His love. All He asks of any of us is a confession from our lips and a belief in our hearts that He is the only game in town – and a commitment from us to not judge as we have not been judged. He calls us to leave the rest to Him and we do well to obey.

That means spending more time developing our relationship with Him and a lot less worrying about those we think less worthy than ourselves.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

JUDGE NOT LEST…

By James Wilson

Many American Christian leaders eagerly anticipate the next great move of God. Prophetic types believe they hear of it directly from the Holy Spirit; others are astute observers of history with a sharp eye for how God sees things as opposed to how man sees. They call it the Third Great Awakening and they are half right. There is indeed a Great Awakening bearing down on us; I happen to believe it already underway, albeit in its infancy. But this is not the Third; it is rather the Fourth.

The Jesus People Movement was Number Three, and the Lord has made clear that – although He is forever doing a new thing instead of replicating an old – we will fail to recognize what is coming if we fail to recognize and appreciate what has already come. Yet it is remarkable how few leaders see the Jesus People for what they were; this includes many who came to faith in the midst of that movement.

What was so unique about the Jesus People? They were unlikely ambassadors of Our Lord to an extent not known since the time of the Apostles, or even the time of the Hebrew conquest of ancient Canaan. The most magnetic driver of the Jesus People was an acid head named Lonnie Frisbee.

A sometime television dancer and fledgling artist, Frisbee was high on LSD out in the California desert when Jesus introduced Himself, brought him down, and went on to fill him with His Holy Spirit. Raped repeatedly molested by a babysitter and constantly ridiculed about his so-called unmanliness by a stepfather, he struggled with sexuality all his life, was not healed like so many I know, and eventually died of AIDS contracted via homosexual behavior. He fought for freedom from his addiction all his life, ultimately failing in this life, and yet brought many thousands to know Christ in all His healing and liberating glory. Because he was an embarrassment to the institutional churches he helped found and flourish he has been largely written out of their history. That is making a long story short, but readers can glean the general idea.

Lonnie Frisbee would be the last to declare some sort of revisionist teaching about homosexuality or anything else; the Word is what it is. But he would be the first to speak of God’s unlimited mercy and love for those who need Him the most. He would be unswerving that Jesus came to heal the sick and the lost, and He chooses whom He chooses to go before Him into the towns and villages where the ragged people live, per Paul Simon’s lyric. He would say he was chosen in spite of his dysfunction – because the Lord is that loving – not because of it. In this he is in the mainstream of salvation history.

Can we imagine the conquest of Canaan without Rahab the Prostitute? How about the gospels without Mary Magdalene – whether the prostitute of tradition or just the demonized nutcase depicted in the synoptics – and what about the prostitute in Luke 7 who washes the Lord’s feet with her tears and is promised eternal remembrance? What about King David, adulterer and murderer, or Levi the tax collector whom Jesus called away from his counting table to follow Him into martyrdom? Consider the ordinary fishermen with dirty faces and unwashed hands who turned the world upside down in Jesus’ Name. How many of these repented before the Lord called and sent them?

No serious person contends any of these people – from Bible times to our own season of Awakening-on-the-way – is not in need of serious repentance; their deeds are not in sync with the Lord they serve. None of us can legitimately claim we do not share that need. But the Lord is not accountable to Church authorities. He expects all His people to struggle for freedom from bondage – free gift though it is – and especially if their bondage is to judgment and unforgiveness – but whether He uses them before or after complete liberation is His business alone. He does require surrender and commitment as the offering of repentance – re-focus – on Him instead of His competitors.

There are consequences for choosing our values over His grace. Calvary Chapel, which was a church plant in Chuck Smith’s living room when Frisbee began pouring gasoline on its small fire, has so written him out of its history they even eschew the signs and wonders that were so plentiful when he ministered. The Vineyard, which was just as blessed by Frisbee sometime after John Wimber lit its fires, rejected him and failed likewise to see what God was doing through its Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto. Both denominations are so bogged down in doctrinal hairsplitting today they often miss the Presence, and they are not unique.

Don’t get me wrong. God is not soft on sin; the pages of scripture trumpet this reality. Yet He chose Martin Luther King – a man who loved Him and served Him unto his own martyr’s death despite his sexual issues, in this case hetero – and never thought of himself more highly than he ought. God has no use for people who glory in their inadequacies, as revisionist types tend to do, but He can do all things through those who acknowledge their shortcomings and permit Him to perfect His strength in their weaknesses.

Paul of Tarsus referred to himself as an abortion, the unlikeliest ambassador of them all. Lonnie Frisbee and Martin Luther King could relate to him. So should we. The coming Awakening is going to feature the unlikely. Let us give thanks and wake up to smell the coffee the Lord Himself is brewing.

It is Number Four coming. Praise the Lord.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

TRUTH, FICTION, AND NOTHING BUT GOSSIP AT HIGHEST LEVELS

by James A. Wilson

Once when I was still pastoring a member of my board raised a complaint at a board meeting. It seems a newcomer family had complained I pressured them for a pledge of money to the church. I responded this was neither my style nor a typical part of a newcomer visit; besides that I categorically denied doing it. The board member persisted that her friend was reliable and I needed to apologize for my misdeed. When I pointed out the Bible we revered required two eyewitnesses to verify a report against a leader – hoping to avoid wasting time on he-said-she-said – she seriously responded that inasmuch as her friend had witnessed my misbehavior and then told her of it there were two eyewitnesses. The rest of the board laughed off this equating of gossip with an eyewitness account and we moved on.

The latest tempest-in-a-teapot over President Donald Trump is much worse. A federal intelligence officer claims POTUS pressured the new Ukrainian president in a telephone conversation to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden over his recorded coercion of said president into firing a Ukrainian prosecutor; POTUS is even accused of threatening US aid to Ukraine as leverage. The Acting Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice did not treat disclosure as an emergency and Democratic Congressional leaders – and others, including some Republicans – are up in arms over what some would call “the appearance of evil” per the biblical 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

Why did they refuse to rush what would be a serious – and perhaps impeachable – abuse of power? It is simple enough.

The whistleblower has no firsthand knowledge of the telephone conversation. Some other unidentified person(s) told the whistleblower and that makes – in the minds of the New York Times, CNN, and Democratic leaders – two witnesses corroborating the story. The whole thing is dizzying unless we recall our country has a document nearly as sacred as the Bible called the Constitution; that document requires witnesses to be confronted by the accused and hearsay evidence to be inadmissible on its face. We need to laugh and move on from this absurdity – this journalistic atrocity. Instead, Democrats are going full speed ahead on an impeachment inquiry.

There are larger issues than this, although it can be readily seen the Times and CNN have again deliberately misled the American People by calling credible that which is vicious gossip at best. The larger issue is whether or not POTUS used the power of the presidency for political gain against a rival or simply requested a legitimate look into justice. Joe Biden – against whom Trump is accused of conspiring – has been seen and heard by millions of Americans bragging of how he strong-armed the former Ukrainian president into firing a state prosecutor who was investigating Biden’s son, Hunter, for graft. Even under these circumstances if our president invoked a quid pro quo forcing his counterpart to investigate Biden or lose US military assistance it would be impeachable. However, the conversation from last July has now been released; it was a friendly exchange in which Ukraine first broached the subject and then volunteered to aid in any investigation the US might undertake.

Additionally, Donald Trump had already frozen aid to Ukraine prior to this conversation on grounds of Ukrainian government corruption. With the advent of a new president he unfroze the funds before this conversation took place or was even contemplated. Money for aid was never once mentioned in the conversation. That our DOJ is currently investigating the roots of the Mueller investigation and FISA Court abuses stemming from high office holders in the Obama Administration – possibly including abuses by the former vice president – is well known. Almost as well known is that the Ukrainian Government made attempts to provide evidence during Mueller and was stonewalled. If Ukraine is again offering cooperation it appears much more like a clean than an unclean move on their part – and on the part of our president.

What we have here is House leaders grasping at yet another straw in their lust to uncover something impeachable where there is not – and never has been – anything. They are relying on nothing but gossip. Additionally we have nothing but a friendly leader encouraging another leader to complete the housecleaning he has already begun, as Trump himself is completing a housecleaning. Finally we have the utter absence of anything resembling quid pro quo alongside abundant evidence Donald Trump was simply doing his job as the President. House and media leaders attempting to again deceive the American People need to spend some time in time out…and do some serious repenting.

The rest of us have some serious repenting to do as well. The facts do indeed need to come out and all of us should eagerly seek the truth, letting the chips fall where they may. That said, Americans have been gifted with a government of, by, and for the people themselves. That government presupposes responsible citizenship, not whining malcontents on both sides demanding somebody else get things right. In Donald Trump we have a president who stands for life, responsible constitutional government acting only when it must, and personal responsibility played out on a level playing field. We owe it to the God who made all of us Americans to stand with our president.

That standing includes voting him a Congress of honest and decent representatives. This occurs only when we re-commit to honesty and decency ourselves – or at least a critical mass of us so do. Then it gets really good.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

HURRICANE DORIAN: THANKSGIVING A GOOD PLACE TO START

by James A. Wilson

Much has been spoken and written – deservedly so – about the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas with lethal force, accounting for more than sixty deaths and counting, plus mega millions in property damage. It killed two more people on Ocracoke Island – offshore of North Carolina – and sowed more devastation when it hit Eastern Canada. Progressive politicians and activists managed to make political hay – shocker – by accusing Donald Trump and ICE of new outrages when they declined to admit a hundred Bahamians to the country without visas. But I have not seen or heard one word about how thankful Americans ought to be in the matter of Hurricane Dorian.

Seriously, Jim? Sure, you are the guy who is always carrying on about how a Eucharistic heart – a heart thankful by default that can only be grown by repetitious choosing to give thanks when it makes sense and when it is counter-intuitive to the max – but seriously?

Let me count the ways. Dorian was expected to devastate Florida with nearly the destruction it brought Grand Bahama; for all practical purposes Florida was untouched as the storm turned northeast and skirted the Florida shoreline. By the time it reached the Carolinas it was – against all predictions – down to Category 1 and barely swiped the mainland, if at all. It swept up the eastern seaboard without much more than a peep although it flared up again on reaching Canada. You’d better believe there’s thanks to be giving!

There are other things to be thankful for. Untold thousands of Christians prayed in the days and weeks leading up to the storm breaking; they prayed for mercy and provision and for God to get glory for Himself. I don’t know whether people in the Bahamas and Northeastern Canada prayed with such commitment – surely some did and perhaps many – but I am inclined to thank God for what He has actually done rather than winge about what He has yet to do. That certainly aligns with the urging in 1 Thessalonians 5 to choose joy however we feel, pray without ceasing, and give thanks for all things. That is how we are enabled to see how God keeps His promise in Romans 8 to work all things for good in those who love Him and are called accordingly – sooner or later and one way or another.

The promise and instruction are potentially all encompassing of humanity, although in practice the number heeding either or both is much smaller. It is too difficult for most of us – and I include myself all too often – to really surrender our will to anyone else, especially when that One says we need to persevere to the end if we want to see the good stuff unleashed. The good news is all that persistence comes about through one choice at a time to repent – re-focus – enough to say thanks when it seems a silly thing to choose in the face of relentless adversity.

Of course it is counter-intuitive. Yet when we begin with thanksgiving we find our attention is diverted away from present – and entirely real disaster – to what the Lord Himself is beginning to unfold in the ashes. When I was divorced in 2015 – and let no one think I am defending divorce, including my own – hell had no fury like what most of the Church turned on me without a hearing or a question. Frankly, I was so spiritually exhausted I would have been happy to finish my days in the peace of obscurity; I chose to give thanks even for pain and injustice while waiting to see what the Lord had in mind. What he had in mind – so far revealed – was a new love and family, re-location to Australia where I not only married but found a British publisher for the novel turned down by so many American houses. I was invited to revive the radio ministry I left behind in California, was led to Idaho when my wife received her green card, was enabled to buy a home against all odds, and find myself still discovering the new pathways of ministry I would never have found in a million years had disaster never struck.

It was no different when it took five years of record-breaking drought to bring a few thousand Christians in each west coast state to seek a culture of repentance – begging God to make in us a eucharistic heart is a big first step into it – that radically changed our lives. God broke the drought into the bargain after spreading one man’s vision from the Mexican border into Alaska and the Arctic Circle.

No, we are not capable of doing all things – certainly when the adversary is a hurricane or a drought. We are – however – capable of choosing thanks over depression, and so enabling God to perfect His strength in our demonstrated weakness.

In the spirit then of 2 Chronicles 7:14, thank you Lord…for Dorian.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

LIFE BEGINS WHEN GOD BEGINS IT

by James A. Wilson

Practitioners of the religion of Baal are happy to co-opt the Christian Faith and even the Christian Bible when it suits their purposes. Leftist presidential candidates are enthusiastic about just such a practice, as evidenced by Pete Buttigieg’s recent statements claiming the Bible says life begins only when a baby first draws breath. Others will jump on this bandwagon they imagine a perfect vehicle for justifying abortion up to the moment of birth. Extending the logic can even justify post-birth execution; one can say the baby is not breathing on his own until the umbilical cord is cut. It is tailor made until we realize it is just another murderous lie.

Hopefully no one will be fooled, although left wing groups – including some who call themselves Christian – have been touting the idea for awhile. Genesis 2:7 is their favorite proof-text, the one in which God breathes into the nostrils of the man He has created and only then does Adam begin to live. Certainly breathing is essential for life inasmuch as when we stop breathing we tend to stop living. Yet the contention is still a lie from every conceivable point of view.

Eve was already breathing when she was removed from his side – if we take the Biblical account seriously – I do, but Buttigieg admits in interviews he does not unless it suits his agenda. That is because a human body oxygenates all flesh within it after that first breath; simple logic and the facts of physiology are clear. Just as clearly, the mother is providing life giving oxygenation to a fetus from the moment of conception, just as she provides it to every other cell inside her body. The most important common denominator of every story of human animation and/or re-animation in the Bible is people live when the Spirit of God breathes on them – whenever and however that occurs.

Psalms 139 says God knew the psalmist before he was born, or even formed; he was knit together by God in the womb when he was yet unformed, when there was nothing to him. God tells Jeremiah, and Paul of Tarsus after him, that He formed him from nothing in the womb. Isaiah claims that pre-animate formation by God Himself in Chapters 44 and 49. Job 31 assures us that all humankind are formed in just this way by God Himself and for His own purposes. Clearly – from a biblical standpoint – life begins when and because God so designates it from the beginning.

Of course science – as always when it is not perverted by political agenda – is one hundred per cent in support of the scriptural viewpoint. Fetal heart beat and even brain activity is now detectable closer and closer to conception. DNA tests on aborted or miscarried unborn children are fully – no-brainer – human. Younger and younger pre-natal human beings are able to live outside of the womb; I personally know twins born at less than twenty-four weeks gestation who flourish today. The reason they flourish is because the parents refused consent to let one of them die that the other might have a better chance. Babies will take that first breath if we let them; we have the technology to bless or curse them more often than not.

Many pro-abortion people defend their position – as ancient Baalists did before them – with statements that a fetus, a pre-born baby, is not a human person but rather a bundle of tissue until it is born. Given this non-human status, the welfare of others already breathing would take priority. Never mind the DNA and brain activity evidence I cited above, or the fact that babies respond in utero to music, parental voices, and a variety of other relational stimuli. Mayor Pete and his allies claim scriptural authority for their viewpoint, so let’s go to scripture. That done, we see their viewpoint is hogwash.

The New Testament word for baby is brephas. The New Testament word for unborn child is…brephas. In other words the Bible makes no distinction whatever between born and pre-born human life, according personality to both. Does anyone really believe if the authors of the NT meant to distinguish they could not have come up with another word? Seriously?

The case of John the Baptist is the most telling evidence for the imputation of human personality to a pre-born child in the New Testament. In Luke’s first chapter Mary is just knowingly pregnant with Jesus when she visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is about six months pregnant with John. The moment Mary greets her cousin the baby John leaps in the womb, obviously responding to the presence of Baby Jesus in his mother’s womb. One could not ask for a more concrete statement of the biblical view of when human personality – life – begins. As I said earlier, it is when God declares it when as yet it has neither form nor substance.

I suggest Mayor Pete and his friends try reading the Bible – and respecting what they read – before presumptuously telling the rest of us what it says. If they do they might discover the good news that God actually does love everybody, came in the flesh because He intends to rescue everyone who will accept rescue – at any time – and realize the God-who-became-Humanity-embodied, the One who gave communion even to Judas Iscariot – and washed his feet the night of his betrayal – is just as anxious to save people like Mayor Pete who are happy to kill the most innocent humans on the planet at any time.

This is the best news of all time.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

REPARATIONS VERSUS RECONCILIATION Part II

by James A. Wilson

The fifth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian Church states – in the first of five verses – we are a new creation when we clothe ourselves in Christ. It continues – contrary to the bromide we are the drivers of reconciliation between persons or peoples – we were first reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Jesus the Son. It finishes by calling us to live as ambassadors of that same reconciliation that generates life itself.

Once we embrace and understand this passage (see my first book, Living as Ambassadors of Relationships, for a fuller understanding) it is a short stroll to understanding the process of reconciliation. It entails three steps and in no particular order. First we need to express our view of reality without pulling punches or resorting to insult. Second is listening to the opposing view, expecting neither pussy-footing nor verbal assault. Third – and most important – we need to permit reframing of the conversation by a third party who cares as passionately as we do while maintaining authentic objectivity; the referee needs to have no dog in the fight other than justice paired with unrelenting love. The catch is there is no Being in the universe other than the God who creates and redeems us with His own blood who perfectly meets the criteria.

Applying this strategy is as difficult as we might imagine it. It requires engagement couched in courageous assertiveness and simultaneous compassionate vulnerability. This is why I claim only the Living God can mediate the feuds that wrack us personally and corporately; only He has mastered the juxtaposition. Yet we are enabled to grow these qualities by association when we submit ourselves to Him in the process. Perhaps that is why He makes such a big deal of ambassadorship for reconciliation in the passage above; this is about becoming fundamentally human.

Lip service won’t cut it. I well remember when this same God called me to deliver a message to a gathering of indigenous people from all over the world some years ago. The message was that He meant to call forth a worldwide awakening from within these indigenous communities in anticipation of the end times; the catch was that He expected me – a white representative of the immigrant peoples – to declare this could only happen when the indigenous peoples themselves repented of their own sins before expecting others to repent of theirs. My fear was of wounding and insulting people who had already been wounded and insulted for centuries by people who looked like me.

When push came to shove and I was unable to find anyone of an appropriate community to deliver the message – people to whom I spoke believed it of God but insisted it was entrusted to me and I had to declare it – I submitted to my calling and began with a declaration of my own repentance. I shared the word I had been given and challenged those present to act on it. The seven hundred or so of us gathered there in Kiruna, Sweden, spent the next four hours approaching representatives of groups our people – whomever they happened to be – had wronged and receiving their forgiveness. The peace of God descended on us in a massive cascade and many deep and permanent friendships were born that day.

The challenge was to each of us – and I have my own wrongs to either prosecute or submit to higher authority in my Lord – to choose between legitimate demands for justice and personal resurrection. Before the next gathering – this time in the Philippines – I found myself victimized in the theft of a sizable inheritance by two persons of the very indigenous peoples I had invited to join me in repentance back in Sweden. Called upon to share my personal testimony of redemption I included my struggle to forgive this and other wrongs I have endured; I was able to joyfully – albeit painfully – assure my listeners forgiveness is a process and God is happy with any who hang in there with Him and with each other in that process. The good fruit included more than forty people who approached me over the remaining days of the event to tell me they had been set free to forgive and be renewed in their lives as a result.

The most dramatic reconciliation incident of that gathering came on the last day of workshops. As an attendee in a workshop dedicated to reconciliation I witnessed a member of a hill tribe whose members – the ones who have not yet received Christ – still practice both cannibalism and headhunting asking forgiveness from members of a tribe on whom they continue to prey. The three of them made an awkward but public statement of forgiveness and reconciliation – at the request of the workshop leader – but without the requisite engagement that makes such a declaration a statement of truth. I was pretty sure we would not see any of them again during this conference.

To my surprise and wonder they turned up near the end of the last workshop session the next day; arm in arm they hung out together for the duration. It was obvious they had not settled for the pro forma gesture they had made from the platform the day before. The circles under their eyes demonstrated they had spent a long night wrestling with the difficult issues of reconciliation through engagement; their efforts were crowned with victory.

If these warring tribesmen can reconcile in the wake of their horrific history so can the rest of us. Erasure is neither possible nor desirable. Following this process – submitting to its Author – is the sole path to justice, redemption, and peace at the end of wherever that path may lead.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books.

REPARATIONS VERSUS RECONCILIATION Part 1

by James A. Wilson

James A. Wilson and Rhonda at the Wyoming Capitol

Chinle High School is on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and the set for television’s Basketball or Nothing. The chronicle of a coach and the team he molds with spit, vinegar, and love is really about across-the-board reconciliation.

Most Americans see Native Americans as people of mystery and stereotype, from pow-wow drummers and dancers to casino people. Basketball or Nothing is about boys becoming men and young people with little hope daring to dream big and work for their dreams. It reveals these people as real and personal; it enables us to engage with them. At beginning and end authentic reconciliation is about engagement with people from whom we have disengaged. It is disengagement that makes reconciliation necessary; it is engagement that makes it possible.

There is a lot of talk about reparations in this season and very little about authentic reconciliation. It is easy for progressives to embrace what seems like a graceful concept of making at long last right what was always wrong, the destruction of a way of life – and many lives – alongside the theft of much land in the name of progress. It is just as easy for conservatives like myself to dismiss the notion with quick retorts like, “It all happened so long ago,” “They did stuff to us too,” and the ever popular, “They stood in the path of progress on land they were not using.”

It gets more complicated – and more heated – when the topic is reparations for descendants of slaves. Progressives can cite the obvious facts of history; free men and women chained and dragged far from their homes, labor extracted from them for centuries; Jim Crow restricted and lynched them even after abolition for more than a century. Conservatives cite the equally obvious facts of the bloodiest war in our history fought – primarily by whites – to set the blacks free, the tremendous progress made since the sixties, and the reality that at their worst these progeny of slavery are mega better off than their counterparts in Africa. There is truth and denial on both sides – whether Native American, Black, or any community that has endured exploitation or persecution.

Take the indigenous peoples and the Doctrine of Discovery. The doctrine states – simply put – any lands discovered by Christian explorers in the hands of non-Christians at the time of discovery become the property of the explorers and those to whom they give or sell the lands. This was the issue in a major US Supreme Court Case – Johnson vs. McIntosh – decided in 1823, and was used to justify the seizure of Indian lands for decades thereafter. The unanimous opinion was written by Chief Justice John Marshall; he claimed large tracts of land involved in the dispute and should have recused himself over the obvious conflict of interest. Although the doctrine has not been tested in SCOTUS for two hundred years, its continuing impact is a source of serious friction between immigrant and native peoples in our land – quite understandably. However, things are not so simple as this.

If reparations are to be paid to anyone we will have to perform the impossible task of determining to whom they should be paid and how much. Many Native Americans have grown wealthy from the casino business, and many more enjoy better housing and healthcare from the same cause; yet a large percentage continue in the poverty that comes from the utter disrespect immigrant peoples – us – have paid to the treaties we made. We say we cannot sort their legitimate claims because they are so divided within their communities we do not know with whom to work; this is true, but it is also a convenient way to dodge responsibility. The same arguments and counter- arguments can be made when discussing black issues, Asian issues, and so forth. And none of these approaches offers engagement; we are still treating one another as issues instead of as people.

It is the kind of social cesspool that invites demagogues on all sides to do what they do so well. Or…
Arapahoes welcoming them to Wyoming Land

Any American who actually cares about living and justice for all – as the Gettysburg Address expresses it – can take the trouble to research the facts of our history. The next step would be to advocate by example within the communities in which we live, not for reparations per se, but for that engagement that leads to reconciliation and a thirst for justice on all sides of the estrangement. One church I know in California began to make a monthly donation to the local tribe – they called it rent on the land that once belonged to the tribe and on which the church now sits. This gesture led to engagement and the church now partners with the tribe in cultural events and mutual honoring.

A coalition of churches on the Northern California coast began collecting annual offerings to give to a dispossessed tribe seeking to buy part of a small island in Humboldt Bay to honor their murdered ancestors. Hearing of this the city of Eureka gifted the tribe with the whole of the island and the offerings were applied to creating a park and monument. It was not reparations; it was a gift given in respect and repentance.

In my next post I will discuss things any individual can do to seek justice without pandering to the demagogues. In the meantime, anyone wondering why I use only examples of churches is because – for the most part – that is all the examples there are of genuine engagement. That may be because – as people who engage with God – we know we are called to be ambassadors of His reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5) first and last.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com